Title: The Creators
Author: Batsutousai
Beta: The amazing, the beautiful, Shara Lunison!
Rating: PG-13
Pairings: Susan/Neville, Ron/Krum, Hermione/Bill, Sarah/??, Harry/NO ONE, DAMNIT!
Warnings: Mentions of child-abuse, anti-Muggle sentiments, mentions of murder and rape, anti-Dumbledore
Summary: 'When their Creators return, their world shall be remade.' Four children hold the fate of the Wizarding World in their un-tried hands.

Disclaim Her: Your author is addicted to Animal Crossing: City Life. This doesn't bode well for future chapters.

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Never As It Seems
-0-0-

Harry slammed into the ground in front of the maze, feeling as if he'd just run a marathon. He smiled at the surprised crowd and asked, "Who forgot to mention that the Cup was a portkey?"

The crowd recognised the object in his hand then and roared with approval. Up at the judges' booth, Bagman announced who'd won and called the other champions back.

In his head, Harry felt Hogwarts squeeze him desperately. 'Where were you? You... Sal, you disappeared!'

Harry closed his eyes and whispered, "I know."

Before anything more could occur between them, Sirius descended upon him with the other three Founders, Sarah, Remus and Mrs Weasley. "Well done!" Sirius crowed, hugging Harry.

Harry managed a smile for his family and the press that was also moving in. Pictures were taken of Harry and his family and friends, as well as when Crouch Senior handed him the prize money and congratulations. It was at that moment that Harry finally realised that something was wrong with the man; his eyes held no life in them. Still gripping Crouch's hand for pictures, Harry used Legilimency on the man and helped him fight off the Imperius. He withdrew as life started returning to those brown eyes.

Crouch shook his head once, looking tired. He stared at Harry for a long moment in awe, then turned to the reporters and said, very quietly, "I have a horrible thing to tell you all."

Parts of the crowd laughed, until they realised that Crouch was serious and, next to him, Harry was watching them with a seriousness that belayed his age.

Once the crowd had fallen silent again, Crouch said, "I have just been freed from the Imperius Curse, my friends, one cast on me by Voldemort himself. Under it, I was directed to help young Harry through the competition – an order which was hardly required – and set the Cup to a portkey, which would take Harry to Voldemort himself, so the monster could be revived."

Disbelief whispered in the crowd and Harry said, "What other reason would there be for the Cup to be a portkey?"

Minister Fudge, who had attended because he could, insisted, "Impossible! He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is dead!"

Harry smiled. "Really? Where is Igor Karkaroff, Minister? He seems to have disappeared. As has your faithful bank, Mr Malfoy." His eyes searched the crowd and found Draco, who was looking surprised at this turn of events. So the boy hadn't known of the Dark Lord's revival.

"This is madness!" Fudge blustered, stepping forward to assure the reporters and onlookers that Harry and Crouch were both mad.

"Is it?" Harry asked softly. "Perhaps we should ask the Cup where it's been?"

Everyone fell silent at that.

"There is no way to ask an inanimate object what it's seen," one reporter said scornfully.

"Actually," Harry replied, "there's a Dark spell, which was never made illegal because it's not well know, that can check where a portkey has been."

Sirius nodded and said, "There is. I have a book about it in my parents' home."

Other Dark witches and wizards were quietly agreeing with Harry and the boy smiled nastily at the Minister before pointing his wand at the portkey and saying, "Portus Revealo."

Above the Cup, the image of the centre of the maze appeared, with Harry reaching for it. Then the graveyard appeared, with a speedy series of images of all that had transpired there, before showing the entrance of the maze, where it had deposited Harry. When the show ended, the entire clearing was silent.

Finally, a bunch of reporters scribbled some quick notes on their pads and turned to leave, looking as pale as the rest of the people standing around the Cup.

Fudge cleared his throat and said, "We'll have to take Barty and Harry in for questioning–"

"You are not taking my godson into the Ministry!" Sirius hissed, pulling Harry behind him protectively. "He's had a hard enough time tonight without you lot making it worse!"

"But, we'll have to–"

"Cornelius," Dumbledore said calmingly, "you can't use Veritaserum on a minor, and you can't take him in for questioning without the permission of his guardian."

With Sirius looking murderous on one side, and Dumbledore looking sever on the other, Fudge had to make do with just Crouch, so he led the unresisting man out of the pitch and towards the school gates, where the reporters were all headed.

Dumbledore walked over to Sirius, Harry, and their friends. "Harry, Sirius, I think we might need to have a talk in my office."

Harry and Sirius looked at each other curiously, then shrugged and nodded. Dumbledore led them into the school and up to his office while the other Founders and Sarah saw Mrs Weasley off.

Once in Dumbledore's office, the man offered food and drinks to his guests before offering them a sad look and saying, "Harry, I'm afraid you'll have to return to your aunt's house–"

"Excuse me?" Harry replied, sitting forward.

Dumbledore sighed. "There are protections on her house–"

"I know about the blood wards, Headmaster," Harry cut in coldly. "And I know that they can only exist so long as I believe that building to be home. And Privet Drive has never been my home, even when it was the only building I'd ever known. It's hard to consider a place home when the people living there would rather you were dead."

Dumbledore shook his head against Harry's reply and said, "But you'll have to return, Harry, because with Voldemort back–"

"He used the Resurrection Ritual, Headmaster. In case you're not familiar with it, it requires the 'blood of the enemy'. My blood. With that, Voldemort will no longer be held back by the blood wards on that house. His Death Eaters won't be able to get through, true, but he will. If you're truly worried about my protection that much, why don't you just have me stay here this summer?"

Dumbledore heaved a great sigh and looked at the boy in front of him. "Students aren't allowed–"

"Once they were," Harry replied. "Once, in the time of the Founders, students were allowed to stay at the school, especially if their parents were muggles, as they might have been killed for going home."

Dumbledore looked surprised at that comment, as if it hadn't been known to him. "Is that so?" he murmured.

Harry narrowed his eyes. Dumbledore was not a stupid man, and Harry may just have given him another piece to a puzzle he hadn't known the Headmaster had been working on. "The Grey Lady told me," he said softly, hoping to cover his blunder.

Dumbledore just looked more surprised. "How would the Grey Lady..." He blinked and shook his head. "Are you saying her ghost is from the time of the Founders?"

Harry huffed and crossed his arms over his chest. "She's Helena Ravenclaw. Surely you know who the ghosts are?"

"I'm afraid not," Dumbledore replied. "Anyone who's been a part of this castle for more than six hundred years is a relative unknown – our records don't go back that far. You may have noticed that we have no pictures of the Founders themselves, although we have more than enough pictures of other people who have lived in this castle through the years."

Harry nodded. The magic to give paintings life had been after his time, and what few pictures had been made of the Founders had been left in their private vaults, as the four friends had intended to give them to the school when they left. They hadn't intended to die in battle, without the chance to give the paintings to their fellow teachers. The best today's witches and wizards had was a rough description in Hogwarts: A History, which didn't do any of them justice. That was probably the sole reason the reborn Founders had gone undetected for so long.

Dumbledore had asked a painting to get the Grey Lady while Harry had been thinking, curious if Harry had spoken the truth, and the woman floated up through the floor at that moment, asking, "Might I help you, Headmaster?" When she glanced back at the man's guests, her eyes widened briefly, seeing Harry.

Dumbledore hadn't noticed the motion, and said, "Harry here tells me that you're Helena Ravenclaw?"

Helena looked back at Harry again with a sharp look and he shrugged. "I am," she said, looking back at Dumbledore.

Dumbledore nodded. "He says the Founders had allowed students to remain in the school during breaks?"

Understanding dawned in Helena's intelligent eyes and she nodded. "They did. Usually when sending the child home would have been dangerous for them, but I also remained at the school, being a child of the staff."

"Of course." Dumbledore looked past her to Harry, who was smiling faintly. "Well, Harry, it looks like you're correct, but I don't know whether I'll allow you to stay the summer or not. I suppose it depends on how Voldemort reacts to being so publicly outed."

Harry nodded. "I understand, Headmaster. But I feel I must reiterate: I will not return to Petunia's house. Ever."

Dumbledore sighed. "Of course." He fell silent long enough that Harry and Sirius both wondered if he'd forgotten to dismiss them and Helena had floated off to the side, intent on questioning Harry. Finally, Dumbledore said, "That was some impressive duelling, Harry."

Harry tensed. "Thank you, Headmaster. I practised with Remus a lot."

Dumbledore nodded, scrutinising Harry with sharp blue eyes for a long moment before finally saying, "Well, I suppose you may go. Sleep well, Harry, Sirius. And congratulations."

"Thank you," Harry replied.

Sirius and Harry left the office, Helena floating along behind them silently. After a moment, Harry said, "You were awfully quiet in there, Sirius."

Sirius grinned. "You seemed to have things under control."

Harry rolled his eyes fondly. "I suppose so."

"Oh!" Sirius stopped and tossed up a silencing ward, looking at Helena distrustfully. "I'd like to speak with Harry alone for a moment, if you don't mind?"

Helena looked at Harry curiously and he shrugged. "Meet me in the entrance hall?"

"Very well," she agreed, then floated through the floor.

"Creepy," Sirius decided, then turned to Harry with a bright grin. "So! I realised that you don't have a Marauder name, and you're an animagus. We should rectify that."

Harry rolled his eyes. "Sirius, it's been four years since you found out about my form. Why choose now to bring this up?"

Sirius sighed, looking worried. "Because I think it would be good to have something else to call you. Just in case."

Harry nodded in understanding. Voldemort. "Shalsar?" he suggested.

Sirius blinked. "Why?"

Harry grinned. "It means 'Salazar' in Parseltongue. I figure, since everyone seems to be calling me that, it's as good as anything else, and it should bother Voldemort, if he hears it. Anyway, none of his Death Eaters would know that it means me, since it's not English, so they'd never tell him."

Sirius shook his head in amusement. "You want me calling you Salazar?"

"Shal would be the short form," Harry agreed cheerfully.

Sirius groaned. "Where did I go wrong?"

Harry just rolled his eyes at his godfather and grabbed his arm to lead him to the entrance hall.

Sirius chuckled and ruffled Harry's hair. "Shal it is," he decided, making Harry smile happily.

-0-

The next morning's Prophet had been full of articles about the announcements at the end of the third task. Harry was briefly mentioned as being the winner, but most of the articles had been more concerned with the revelation that Voldemort had returned.

The Founders and Sarah finally found time to talk over lunch. They met in the Room of Requirement and Harry told them everything that had happened in the graveyard. They were all silent for a long moment.

Finally, Hermione said, "We'll have to find the other soul containers."

"I know you don't like him," Susan agreed, looking at Harry, "but we might consider telling Dumbledore about this. He'll probably have a better way of finding the soul pieces than we do."

"But how will we explain it to him?" Harry asked. "We can't just walk up to him and say, 'We know Voldemort's split his soul into multiple parts and placed it into inanimate objects, can you help us find them? Oh, and no, we can't tell you how we know all this.' "

Hermione sighed. "No, but he might know things about your Heir that we don't, things that will help us figure out what he might have used, or where he might have hidden them."

Harry rubbed at his face tiredly. "I don't trust him."

"None of us do," Ronald agreed, "but there's a difference between trusting him and going to him out of necessity. This is more the latter."

"Sal," Sarah said softly, "how else do you plan to stop him? You can't do everything yourself."

Harry sighed. "Yeah, I know."

"And in the eyes of the public, we're still kids," Susan agreed. "We need an adult on our side, someone who can help us with things we don't have the time to figure out ourselves."

"You don't have to like it, but we'll need his help," Hermione finished.

Harry muttered to himself for a moment, then nodded. "Fine. We'll go talk to him after your last exams this afternoon. Is that acceptable?"

"Yes," Hermione agreed with a smile.

"It'll work out, mate," Ronald said, reaching over to grip Harry's shoulder.

"I certainly hope so," Harry replied.

-0-

After their exam, the Founders met up outside Dumbledore's office. They'd all agreed that Sarah should go back to her own House, so there was no suspicion place upon her – she fought with them, but Harry played the big brother too well, and she ended up bowing to his demands, as she always had.

Once they were all there, Harry turned to the gargoyle and said, "We need to speak to the Headmaster."

The gargoyle nodded and was still for a long moment as it magically passed on the message. Finally, it moved to one side, allowing the four friends to pass. They could have just demanded it move – the whole castle followed their every demand – but they'd agreed to go by the book, as it were.

Ronald ended up reaching the door first and knocked. When Dumbledore called, "Enter," the red-head led the way in and cheerfully took one of the four open chairs in front of the Headmaster's desk. Hermione and Susan followed him calmly while Harry moved stiffly, eyeing the Headmaster with a touch of disgust.

Once they'd all sat, Dumbledore offered them tea, which only Harry turned down, then asked, "What might I do for you four?"

The other three looked at Harry and, after shooting them disgusted looks, he said, "Headmaster, you recall two years ago when Ginny Weasley was found in the hospital wing with no explanation?"

The Headmaster paused in the act of stirring yet more sugar into his tea, looking at Harry with poorly hidden curiosity. "I recall the incident."

Harry frowned and crossed his arms over his chest protectively. "I, as you know, am a Parselmouth. There is a basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets–"

"So that's what it is," Dumbledore breathed.

"Sir?" Ronald asked.

Dumbledore shook his head. "The Chamber of Secrets was opened once before."

"By Voldemort," Harry agreed, surprising the old man. "And it almost was again, except after killing a student the last time, the basilisk wasn't quite willing to come back up again. I happened to hear the hissed argument and went to check. I found Ginny arguing with the basilisk, but she didn't sound like Ginny."

"Voldemort?" Dumbledore guessed.

Harry nodded. "He'd placed a bit of his soul into a diary, and that bit of soul had possessed Ginny. I destroyed the diary, but we all realised that there might have been another piece of soul in the school, since one got in."

"We found one other," Hermione offered, sensing Harry's unwillingness to go on, "in the Room of Lost Things. We destroyed it as well, but seeing as how Voldemort is still alive, we think there must be more, but we're not sure where they'd be hidden, if not in the castle."

"What makes you so certain there aren't any more in the castle?" Dumbledore asked.

'I have checked,' Hogwarts supplied.

When the students didn't look surprised at hearing the castle's voice, Dumbledore sighed and said, "I suppose we'll have to trust Hogwarts' word, then."

"She is the one who found the second one, sir," Susan supplied.

Dumbledore nodded in understanding. "You want to find the other pieces, then?"

"Yes," Harry agreed. "Voldemort needs to be destroyed, and getting rid of these soul pieces is looking to be the only way to do it."

"Do you know how many there might be?" Dumbledore asked.

"Not in the slightest," Harry replied drily.

"What we know is that one was a diary, which somehow found its way into my sister's hands, and the other was Ravenclaw's diadem, which was hidden inside the school," Ronald said.

"Ravenclaw's diadem?" Dumbledore repeated, looking gobsmacked.

The Founders traded amused looks.

Dumbledore gathered himself and smiled sheepishly at the amused teens. "Ah. Well, from what I remember of Tom as a student, he liked to collect things, things which had some sort of value to him. He also loved Hogwarts, as he'd grown up in an orphanage, and had hated the place."

"Things that meant something," Hermione murmured.

"And he loved Hogwarts?" Susan added.

Harry tapped thoughtfully on the arm of his chair. "He found the diadem, though I doubt it was simple. Perhaps he found the other treasures?" The other three Founders looked at him with dawning understanding, while Dumbledore looked curious. "Gryffindor's sword, Hufflepuff's cup, Slytherin's locket."

The Hat, which was sitting on Ronald's head, helpfully commented, "Oh, I've got Godric's sword."

"Dare I ask?" Harry replied drily.

"It was a safe place for it?" the Hat replied.

"Brilliant," Ronald murmured, pulling the Hat off his head and cheerfully taking out the sword.

"You could have dropped that on a student's head," Harry snapped.

"But I didn't," the Hat replied smartly.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Harry, let it go."

Harry huffed in disgust and looked away.

Dumbledore cleared his throat, smiling at the byplay. "The cup and the locket?" he asked.

The Founders traded nervous looks. They could recall their own heirlooms, of course, by going to Gringotts and demanding they be returned, but Dumbledore didn't know that.

"There's nothing saying that's all there is," Harry finally said, changing the subject.

"But if that's all he could find..." Susan commented.

"That's all that was left," Hermione said.

"Not according to history," Dumbledore offered. "Other than whatever has been locked away in the Founders' vaults in Gringotts, there's also a ring which was said to belong to Salazar Slytherin. Tom had somehow acquired it the summer before his seventh year and wore it everywhere."

The Founders traded looks. Salazar had never worn rings; they interfered with spellcasting, just as bracelets and necklaces did. In fact, none of the Founders had worn jewellery, other than hair pieces and Rowena's earrings. Salazar's own necklace had actually belonged to Sarah, and he felt sick at the thought that he wouldn't be able to return it to his sister.

"That's certainly a possibility," Ronald agreed after a long silence.

"I suppose we'll have to keep our eyes out for the items we think might be it," Hermione said.

Dumbledore nodded. "I'll set about looking for them, and I'll let you know if I manage to find one."

"Very well," Harry agreed, standing. "Thank you for your time, Headmaster."

"Certainly, children. And thank you for bringing this to my attention," Dumbledore replied.

As soon as the Founders were out of the office, Ronald said, "Gringotts?"

"Gringotts," the other three replied grimly.

-0-

That night, Diagon Alley saw a group of four small, cloaked visitors that, who hurried to Gringotts, which was open until three a.m. every day. When they entered, the building was mostly empty, and Hermione, who spoke basic Gobbledegook, walked up to one of the counters and said, "We require your superior."

The goblin looked at her suspiciously. On one hand, not many humans bothered to learn the goblin language. On the other hand, she hadn't given her name, only demanded to see the Night Master. "Why should I?" he demanded.

"Because if you don't," Hermione said with a smile that the goblin couldn't see, "your gold won't save you from your fate."

The goblin swallowed and nodded. "I'll be back," he said, then hopped down and hurried off.

"Dare I ask?" Ronald inquired.

Hermione shrugged. "Threatened him a bit."

"Sal is clearly rubbing off on you a bit too much."

"You can't blame me for everything, Ric," Harry commented drily.

"Sure I can."

The goblin returned with another goblin, who was eyeing them curiously. "May I assist you?" the new goblin asked in English.

"This is a matter of some privacy," Harry said, eyeing a vampire who stood at another window distrustfully.

The goblin nodded and waved for them to follow him before walking towards the offices of the goblins. The party was silent until they were behind stone walls, then the goblin said, "I am Ragnok, the Night Master."

The teens all pulled back their hoods and Hermione said, "Rowena Ravenclaw."

"Helga Hufflepuff."

"Godric Gryffindor."

"Salazar Slytherin."

The goblin stared at them in shock. "Impossible."

"Unlikely, not impossible," Susan replied lightly.

"I'll need to make sure, you understand," Ragnok said warily.

"We do," Hermione agreed.

Ragnok nodded and had each of them cast a spell at a piece of parchment. After a moment, each parchment listed their names as the Founders, as well as their names as they were at that moment. Each parchment also listed another name, and Hermione commented, "We had another past life between being the Founders and now?"

"Crazy," Ronald commented, taking his parchment and looking at the stated name. "Felix Summerby?"

"Didn't he invent Cheering Charms?" Harry asked.

"Really? Wicked," Ronald decided, grinning happily.

Hermione tapped thoughtfully at her past life, Bridget Wenlock, who had been a famous Arithmancer. "Why don't we remember these lives?"

"Maybe because we didn't need to," Susan commented, smiling at the name on her parchment: Daisy Dodderidge, who had founded the Leaky Cauldron. "I doubt we remembered being the Founders then, either."

"We were alive at different times, anyway," Harry commented, eyeing the name on his parchment: Ignotus Peverell. "Imagine how we would have felt, going to school and living out our lives without knowing where the others were."

"It was for the best, I suppose," Hermione agreed. "But still, it would have been nice to remember that life."

"Row," Harry said drily, "you do know that most humans never get to remember any of their past lives, right? Count your blessings that you've remembered the one."

"Oh, hush, you grouch." Hermione replied fondly.

Ragnok cleared his throat. "Now that I've made certain, what can I do for you, ladies, gentlemen?"

Susan sat forward. "It's recently come to our attention that some of the items we left behind when we died were used for nefarious purposes, and we'd like those items back."

Ragnok nodded. "Which items?"

"Helga's cup and my locket," Harry replied.

Ragnok nodded and set about making a note. "I believe Lady Hufflepuff's cup is currently in a vault. The locket will be harder."

Harry took a deep breath and said, "There's also a matter of a ring which supposedly belonged to me, but I have no recollection of. It was in the possession of my current Heir for some time during the end of his schooling."

Ragnok frowned and made some more notes. "You say it wasn't actually yours?"

Harry nodded. "I never owned a ring, but according to Dumbledore, history says it was mine. It's possible it simply got passed down through the family line after I died and was actually my wife's. I can't be sure."

Ragnok nodded. "I'll have it looked in to. While it wasn't officially yours, you might have sufficient sway to recall it. Now," he looked up at them seriously, "I can have the cup brought to you now, but it may take a couple days for the locket and the ring – if I can get it – to get to you. I'm assuming you don't want this search to become public?"

"We don't even really want our lives as the Founders to become public yet," Ronald replied drily.

Ragnok nodded again. "To whom should the artefacts be sent, then?"

The four friends traded looks. Ronald was the best as Fiendfyre, but Harry would be in the best position of all of them to destroy the items, assuming he was staying at Hogwarts over the summer. Finally, Hermione turned back and said, "Send it to Harry Potter. He's likely to be staying at Hogwarts this summer."

"Of course," Ragnok agreed, making another note and tugging a cord to call another goblin in to his office. He gave the goblin a slip of parchment and the goblin left, closing the door. "The cup is being retrieved now. Also, there is the matter of a goblin-made sword that has been tabled for some time." He looked at Ronald.

Ronald narrowed his eyes. "That was given to me by Gringott when this bank was first opened for my assistance in fighting for your rights. It was a gift."

Ragnok narrowed his own eyes. "Our records show it was stolen."

"If it was stolen, and I made no secret of having it, why wasn't I mobbed by goblins when I was still alive?" Ronald asked heatedly.

Susan placed a gentle hand on Ronald's arm and suggested, "It's possible that the sword was returned to Gringotts on your death, as I believe was supposed to happen, and someone stole it afterwards."

"It's also possible that the sword was simply never returned," Harry commented. "Which was hardly Godric's fault. A lot of things went wrong because we hadn't expected to die in that battle. Each of us had portraits made which were supposed to be given to the school upon our deaths, but weren't, and my locket was never supposed to end up with my children."

Ragnok grunted and leaned back into his chair. "Do you have the sword?"

Ronald nodded. "The Sorting Hat had it – don't ask me why! – and I'm willing to give it back to you if you truly want it, since swords are hardly used in this day and age. But I just want to set the record straight: I never stole that sword."

Ragnok stared at him for a long moment, then nodded. "I believe you. We would like the sword back."

Ronald nodded again. "It is not with me at this moment, but I will send it with an owl as soon as we return to the school. Is that acceptable?"

"It is," Ragnok agreed.

The goblin he'd sent for the cup returned with it, looking disgusted. "I don't know why they'd want it," he commented in Gobbledegook.

Ragnok took the cup and blinked in surprise. "You should know that this artefact has been used for Dark magic."

"Oh, we know," Harry replied with a grim smile. "My Heir used it store part of his soul. We're destroying it."

Ragnok's eyes widened. "Destroying it?"

"It's the only way we've found to get rid of the soul in it," Hermione said with some regret. "My own prized diadem is no more than fine dust, now."

Ragnok eyed the cup on his desk with some distaste. "Better destroyed than used like this," he agreed, handing the cup to Susan. "You might consider using your sword to destroy the evil," he suggested, looking at Ronald. When the boy looked surprised, the goblin got a smug look on his face and said, "It is goblin-made."

"It could very well destroy the soul without doing more than denting the container," Harry agreed thoughtfully, recalling how effective goblin-made weapons were against Dark witches and wizards, including himself.

"But you want the sword back," Ronald pointed out. "I won't go back on my promise, not a second time."

Ragnok tapped on his chin. "If it can destroy this evil without harming the artefact, I would prefer you keep it long enough to be rid of the soul in the locket and – if we can find a loophole to get it – the ring." He smiled toothily. "And then you will return it."

Ronald looked at his friends curiously, and Harry nodded. "I can't use that sword without burning my hands, but Sarah can. It would certainly be easier than Fiendfyre."

Ronald nodded in agreement. "Rather." He turned back to Ragnok. "Agreed. If the sword works, I'll send you an owl tonight to let you know. Salazar will send the sword to you once we've destroyed the locket and the ring, if we can."

Ragnok's eyes gleamed. "Agreed."

"If that is all?" Harry asked, standing.

"I believe so," Ragnok replied, also standing.

The other three Founders stood and Hermione said, "May your gold always flow."

"And may it never trickle through your fingers," Ragnok replied, then motioned for the goblin who had gotten the cup to lead the four teens from his office.

The students traded grins before they pulled up their hoods to hide their faces. That had gone well, all things considered.

-0-0-0-0-0-

A/N: I know the chapter went really fast – perhaps too fast – but I was having a hard enough time writing it, as I recall, and making it go slower was a bit too much to ask for.

I hope to have the next chapter out next Wednesday, but I make no promises. As I said at the top, I'm a bit addicted to AC:CL right now. Also, I'm not in the mood to write. (Which sucks, but there's not a lot I can do about it.)

~Bats ^.^x

Next Chapter: Long Road